Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Northern Lights Express

Northern Lights Express project

Map of the Northern Lights Express corridor

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The Northern Lights Express (NLX) is a proposed higher speed passenger rail project that would provide rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth. If constructed, NLX will operate on approximately 152 miles of existing BNSF rail corridor.

Current status

The Federal Railroad Administration completed an environmental review and approved the service development plan in early 2018. In May 2023, the Minnesota Legislature appropriated $194.7 million for the project. These funds provide the 20% local match needed to pursue federal grants to complete design work, construct the project and purchase locomotives and passenger cars for the service. Federal matching grants are expected to pay for roughly 80% of the project.

Next steps

  • Secure capital and operating funding
  • Complete all necessary agreements with BNSF Railway and Amtrak
  • Final design and construction
  • Implementation of service